The decree states that any item that is bought abroad for more than the equivalent of B10,000 and then carried into the country must be declared, and duty paid on it.
Montri Boonsri, Senior Customs Officer, told The Phuket News yesterday (March 9), “There has been no adjustment to the cost of goods [exempted], so the figure of B10,000 as the maximum allowance for personal assets exempted from tax is still in place.”
There is some flexibility, he said. “If you buy a brandname bag [abroad] or a watch, for example, and it costs more than B10,000, you must be able to declare that the goods belong to you and are for your own prsonal use, so don’t put them in your luggage, still in the packaging.
“There are exceptions, too. If you stay overseas for more than six months, then you will be exempted from paying import tax but you must declare the goods in your luggage to the officer.
“The Decree has applied since 1987 but we compromised for many years. However, we saw cases when people brought 30 bags through an airport. That is not normal and it was quite clear that not all the items were for personal use; they were for commerce. So we needed to be more strict about the import tariff.
“When we check the goods, we will also check out the person carrying the goods. We will check their travel history: Do they travel abroad a lot? Why do they need to carry lots of bags each time they travel? We need to be crystal clear about the reasons.”
As for tobacco and alcohol, he noted that the duty-free limits per person, regardless of price, are 200 cigarettes, or 250 grammes of cigars or tobacco, and one litre of alcohol.
“If you would like to bring in those goods, you will have to pay tax on any amount exceeding these quantities. I would suggest you contact customs officers to find out how much you should pay.”